The reason SIRAS’ product registration and smart return service perked my interest is because it protects people’s privacy and is an effective means of reducing losses.
SIRAS tracks an inanimate object (merchandise) instead of a customer’s personal information.
Now they are now offering a “guarantee” the technology will add dollars to a organization’s bottom line by reducing fraudulent returns.
In their own words from the press release regarding this matter:
Electronic Product Registration, is putting its money where its mouth is with a unique Return On Investment (ROI) Guarantee for any company using SIRASâ€™s product registration and Smart Return service to manage their product returns and warrantees. The program, designed to eliminate any risk for companies interested in implementing SIRASâ€™s technology, guarantees that over the course of a year companies will save more money through deflected product returns than it spends in transaction fees.
In case you haven’t had to refund any merchandise in a long time, most retailers require you to give them your personal statistics before they approve your return.
This information is all maintained in a database, where it might be exposed to a hacker, or probably more frequently, dishonest employee. Information is worth a lot of money to anyone, who knows where to sell it.
A dishonest Certegy employee recently got caught selling 8.5 million people’s information to an undisclosed data-broker. Since the mysterious data-broker still hasn’t been identified — despite being listed as a co-conspirator in court filings — we really aren’t sure where these records went?
Certegy provides check verification services for a lot of merchants.
Personal and financial information is marketed in carder forums (chat rooms) on the Internet. Anonymous payment methods, such as wire transfers, PayPal and eGold add to the problem. They make it relatively easy to buy and sell stolen information.
It also isn’t unknown for criminal organizations to plant, or recruit employees to steal information from within an organization.
The press release quotes Peter Junger (SIRAS CEO) as saying, “And in all cases, regardless of ROI, clients retain all of the valuable POS data collected.”
This POS data also serves another important purpose. If the merchandise is found in a fencing operation, or on an auction site, it can still be tracked to the point-of-compromise.
This opens up opportunities to recover stolen merchandise and makes it more dangerous for the criminals fencing it.
Mesa Police Department tested these capabilities with SIRAS and FOX News did a story on it, which can be seen, here.
The technology, when deployed properly with a point-of-sale system can also identity fraudulent means of tender used to purchase merchandise.
SIRAS technology can be deployed by a merchant, or at the factory, itself.
They already makes their database available to law enforcement free-of-charge.
With all the identity theft and counterfeit ID available, using SIRAS reduces the possibility that an innocent customer will be wrongfully identified as an “undesirable” in a refund database.
Saying that, who knows how much of the information in these databases is one-hundred percent accurate anymore? With retail crime becoming more and more organized, the possibility exists that it is NOT.
One of the systems targeted in the TJX data-breach was their refund database. The information in this database is probably worth more than simple financial information because it contains the elements necessary to assume a person’s identity.
It’s relatively easy to shut down a bank account, or credit card number. Once a person’s statistics are compromised, they can be at risk of identity theft for a long time.
Data breaches are becoming more expensive. TJX claimed a loss of $118 million in their second quarter earnings. Estimates vary widely on exactly how expensive data-breaches will become, but everyone agrees the cost of them is going up.
SIRAS seems more effective in resolving property crimes because it tracks the property, itself. It also protects customer privacy and protects a merchant from becoming the victim of a data-breach.
I doubt that SIRAS would make this guarantee if they weren’t absolutely certain of the results. If they were wrong, I doubt they would be in business very long.
Press release from SIRAS, here.